On anniversary of dark day, good news about Met

Anyone with a column assignment that falls on the anniversary of Sept. 11 must give pause.

Eleven years ago today, I was awakened by a phone call from a friend in England. She had watched the first plane hit the World Trade Center and had to telephone. In astonishment, disbelief and fear, the day unraveled. Today’s anniversary brings back the event with vivid clarity.

Mindful of that, much has happened since. All of our lives have changed. So any evidence of normality, let alone a special gift just announced to this community, has to be placed in context.

Negotiations with the Metropolitan Opera of New York to bring The Met Live in HD to Durango have been completed. Thank you, Charles Leslie, for persisting.

Director of Fort Lewis Community Concert Hall, Leslie has twice tried to host the Met broadcasts. A few years ago, he lost out to Storyteller Theatres. The Met apparently preferred to contract with movie theaters.

Well, last summer, Leslie renewed his efforts for two reasons. First, the local movie theaters changed ownership. Allen Theatres chose to negotiate with an operatic format other than the Met. It has yet to launch, but we have hope.

Secondly, Leslie got a boost when community activist Ann Flatten and her army circulated petitions to bring the MET broadcasts to the college. Leslie wove the two strands together, and now Durango will have live Metropolitan operas streamed on 12 Saturday mornings from mid-October to the end of April.

Season tickets go on sale, Leslie said in a recent news release, this Friday, Sept. 14, at the Durango Welcome Center, corner of 8th and Main Ave. For 12 operas, shown Saturday mornings in the Vallecito Room in the FLC Student Union, the season pass will cost $270. Single tickets cost $25 with a slightly reduced rate of $23 for seniors, students and children. You can buy the package or the single tickets at the downtown ticket office or at the door one hour before performance.

If you’ve never been to The Met: Live in HD, give it a try. As advertised, it is a live broadcast of a performance. A brief introduction by a Met spokesperson launches the program. During intermission, you get a behind the scenes view of scenery changes. In addition, the host or hostess interviews principals and often the conductor. Expert camera work brings viewers so close to the singers you see the blood, sweat and tears of a high-powered performance. In many ways, the broadcast audience has better seats than those at the Metropolitan in New York City.

The first production, Gaetano Donizetti’s “L’Elisir d’Amore,” is a bit of comic fluff with a cartful of duets. Extremely popular in the composer’s lifetime, the work is mismatched love, love potions and how a little fake magic can transcend class differences. Scheduled to begin at 2:00 p.m. New York time, the Durango curtain time is 10:55 a.m. There’s plenty of free parking on a Saturday morning in the big west-side “C” parking lot.

Two weeks later on Oct. 27, the mood shifts to tragedy with Verdi’s “Otello.” The rest of the schedule, through to the final performance on April 27, is available online at www.metoperafamily.org.

For ticket information contact www.durangoconcerts.com or call 970-247-7657. And Charles, muchas gracias.

Judith Reynolds is a Durango writer, artist and critic. Reach her at jreynolds@durangoherald.com.